I had to get out of the house. My mother had caught me kissing another girl. She didn't kick me out, exactly, but I knew that If I stayed I would have to endure her contempt. So I got in my car and headed to my girlfriend's house, knowing her mother was out of town with some man or other, and we could have the place to ourselves. I was feeling like flinging myself off a bridge. I was sixteen years old.
My girlfriend had made me a mix tape, so I popped it in. The first track was 'Life On Mars'. What a perfect song it was for my experience right at that moment.
I played it over and over again until I got to her place, learned the lyrics (as best I could; that bit about 'from Ibeza to the Norfork broads' was all foreign to me so I'd just mouth that bit), and being able to sing really loud in the car kept me sane till I got there.
I'm now 48 years old. I've had a hell of a year, beginning with January 10th, 2016. I've had friends die, got laid off from my job, lost my apartment, and what-all else you can think of that has smashed my will to stay on the planet. Last Friday, I was at my job, taking tickets at a garage at a church, and feeling lost and defeated. All-a-sudden, I started singing. "It's a god-awful small affair/to the girl with the mousy hair..." I realized that I had taught myself to sing, through all these years, and almost every song is David's. He often sang in a range that I could manage, and if I couldn't go low or high, I'd practice in the car till I could. Standing there in the garage, singing at the top of my lungs, I had folks come up to me, stand and hear me, shout enthusiastic encouragement ("SING IT, GIRL!") and everything, for just a hot minute, was all right.
David taught me how to sing. David taught me how to hang on, when things are worse than you think you can handle. David's face--beautiful, fierce, and gentle, makes me feel appreciated, even though I never met him. These things have been great gifts to me. They continue to sustain me.
He was so much more than a "rock star". He was a great man, a great human. And I am profoundly grateful I was blessed to be on the planet at the same time he was.